Last fall I addressed the overgrowth along the back of the barn and paddock. Some of the cuttings went to a wood ministry, and some went into chippings. Along the way I learned that it’s possible–if time consuming–to break major branches down into component parts and disperse most of the parts over the property.
I’m currently focusing on Arroyo Minor, which is behind/below the house and inside the pasture fence. This is the area through which a fire would most naturally track. Even before we lost a handful of major trees to drought last year, it was a huge job.
So for starters, I’m trying to get the worst of it. Deadwood out. Ladder fuel trimmed up.
I feel bad about the amount of pruning, but the truth is that had we humans not interfered so deeply with this land, the natural ebb and flow of beasties and fire would have been here before me. The challenge in moving forward is the interdependency of some of these species. So many of them, like the piñon, skunkbush, and wee little contorted oaks depend on junipers for cover to get started.
In the end, I’m aiming to leave enough shade, ground cover, and erosion control while creating enough space between bunched growth and ladder fuel elimination for fire safety. In the process, I take the cuttings down to the smallest branch.
The smaller bits go to generalized and specific erosion control, while a certain number of juniper cuttings are piling into the gaping gulch at the edge of the fenceline to slow that water flow in case we actually get monsoon rains ever again. (insert climate change sarcasm) The straighter branches line the bottom of the fence where the miserable installation left big gaps. Not dog proof as intended, no indeed.
All of this slows my progress considerably. But it’s best for the land, and it’ll minimize expenses, and it doesn’t leave too many huge looming piles of vulnerable brush crying out, “Burn me! Please!” Eventually we’ll have to haul stuff to the transfer station where it’ll be shredded by Star Warsian machinery to serve as mulch for others, but until then….
Bonus flower section!
And we’ve had an inch of rain over the weekend, which should keep the downed piñon from bursting into spontaneous flame for a while. RAIN, I say! I wonder what flowers will come up next?